English Patient

Topics: Ernest Hemingway, World War II, A Farewell to Arms Pages: 9 (3921 words) Published: April 17, 2007
Michael Ondaantje, author of The English Patient, and author Ernest Hemingway, who wrote A Farewell to Arms take the readers on a whole new journey set in the tragic time of war filled with stories of love and pain and loyalty which all of these feelings play an important role in the characters' lives. The English Patient is the story of four mentally and physically injured characters living in an Italian monastery as World War II was coming to an end at the time. One by one, Ondaatje reveals the stories of their past and how they came to be. A Farewell to Arms is a heartbreaking love story between a driver and a nurse who fall in love and how they deal with being separated during war. Ondaatje and Hemingway use their different styles of writing to capture their readers and to take them back to life of the World War I and World War II. Both use different types of themes, symbols, and views on how their novels to reflect on their own personal lives. The English Patient is truly an inspiring piece in literature. Some of the themes in this novel are the pain, trouble, and suffering that war causes. War has an impact on human beings emotionally, even if one is able to escape of being involved in war without being physically wounded. All the major characters go through some sort of pain as a result of the war. The English patient, Almasy, who is actually Hungarian, has perhaps suffered the most of all four. After his plane crashes, Almasy is later rescued and is mistaken for an English soldier. However, his life turns into more of a mess when his body is burnt from head to toe and has to constantly depend on morphine to relieve pain. If that wasn't enough, he fails to save the life of his lover, Katherine Clifton. Hana, the British nurse caring for Almasy, is just a woman with a regular life, but unfortunately, she suffers from the emotional impact war has left on her. From her past experiences, the nurse feels that everyone she loves leaves her at the end. Being a nurse, Hana is required to care for the wounded and naturally she forms a close bond with her patients, but she ends up witnessing them dying which brings her more pain. When Hana finally finds love with the Kirpal Singh, an Indian bomb specialist, she feels very happy and energetic. However, as the war moves on, Kip ends up leaving her alone with Almasy and Caravaggio, a thief. This feeling of abandonment is just one many pains Hana faces. Another important theme in this novel is identity. Almasy, who lived and traveled mostly in the desert, creates an alternate identity for himself. The desert is an identity because it is constantly changing, and identity can be seen the same way. People have learned that the desert is where empires rose and fell, but as time moves on, they are all forgotten, and all their traces are covered by sand. "We were German, English, Hungarian, African - all of us insignificant to them. Gradually we became nationless. I came to hate nations" (138). The desert taught Almasy to hate nations and made him see that people should not be identified by their nation or where they are from. He views the desert as a place where people could live, a place without borders or rules, free without any limitations. Through all the journeys he has taken, he finds himself realizing that one's beliefs is what makes up a person, not a name or a country. In this novel, the desert is shown to be as a place where there is no prejudice, and one's nationality is not important. In A Farewell to Arms, the primary theme is war. Some of the characters remain neutral about the war, but others remain bitter about the troubles it brings in life. Lieutenant Frederic Henry, an Italian ambulance driver, enters the war looking for adventure, but ends up finding no honor. He finds himself tired of the fighting and conflict and realizes he has to escape the war. Towards the end of the novel, the Italian forces become weak and lose many battles resulting in the sinking of...
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